Emergency services reveal �4m cost of crash claims

EMERGENCY services have claimed more than �4m on insurance in the past three years for vehicle damage

Smashes, vandalism and blunders involving vehicles belonging to emergency services and Norfolk councils have led to more than �4m being claimed on insurance in the past three years, new figures have revealed.

The statistics were obtained through a Freedom of Information request, and showed how vehicles such as police cars, ambulances and council vehicles have been involved in serious crashes and have also been victims of vandals.

Norfolk police alone made claims of more than �1m in the past three years, with 1,226 motor claims on the constabulary’s own insurance, while �116,103 was claimed back from third parties.

Norfolk police made insurance claims on almost 600 accidents over three years, but said the injuries sustained were relatively low. Sixty-five officers suffered injuries.

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A Norfolk police spokesman said: “While road traffic collisions cannot be predicted, the number of collisions involving injuries to officers is relatively low and all members of staff have access to occupational health who provide support and advice.”

The spokesman said support could include physical therapy and recuperation advice, while people placed on restricted duties because of injuries received regular reviews.

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Some claims were for vandalism of police cars and a spokesman said: “It is always frustrating when a police vehicle is vandalised as it means that vehicle is taken out of service while a repair is carried out.

The East of England Ambulance Service, which covers the whole of the region, claimed �1.4m on insurance, including for 884 accidents involving moving ambulances and 303 for accidents involving stationary objects.

A spokeswoman said that was benchmarked against nine other trusts and was at the lower end of the claims scale with regards to both cost per vehicle and accident frequency, with a year on year reduction in claims over the past three years.

She added the trust was always looking for ways to reduce the figure further, which is why it had a dedicated in-house driver training unit, one of the few ambulance trusts nationwide to do so.

At Norfolk County Council more than �2m was claimed on insurance over the three years, while �417.000 was claimed back from third parties.

Incidents ranged from crashes with other vehicles, damage caused by potholes, reversing into objects to claims made after vehicles were filled with the wrong fuel or vandalised.

John Baldwin, Norfolk County Council’s risk and insurance manager, said: “Norfolk County Council has around 2,600 motor vehicles insured on its current policy - with our vehicles including cars, vans, heavy lorries, buses and fire appliances, driving well in excess of ten million miles each year.

“Our motoring policy sets out standards of driving expected from our staff and we monitor the details of all vehicle collisions closely.

“We look at every claim on its merits and if our vehicle was not to blame we will certainly defend a claim in order to protect the interests of Norfolk council taxpayers. Equally if we were to blame, then it is only right that we settle.

“Many drivers are expected to undertake a regular driving assessment to drive a council vehicle on official business and where drivers have multiple accidents they can be recalled to be further assessed and provided with additional training if required, or further action taken.

“It should be noted that our fleet includes vehicles that are part of our car lease scheme - where employees that are designated as essential users and who consistently travel more than 2,500 miles per annum on official business are eligible to, at cost, lease a car through the scheme.

“Under the terms and conditions of the car lease scheme, the cars may be used for normal, social and domestic purposes by the user and his/her immediate family who are properly qualified drivers and are ‘named drivers’ for insurance purposes.

“These figures will therefore include accidents that are not solely relating to county council staff on council business.”

Norwich City Council only provided figures for one year, which detailed 90 incidents, in which council employees were at fault on 82 occasions, with �25,310 claimed on the council’s own insurance and �591 recovered from third parties.

Amy Lyall, spokeswoman for Norwich City Council, said: “We take damage to pool cars seriously, and look closely at any reports of accidents or vandalism. Each incident is investigated on a case-by-case basis.

“Like any organisation, we would look at how the damage happened if an employee damages a pool car and then his or her line manager would decide on the most appropriate action.”

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